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Ethiopian PM explains Eritrean troop presence in Northern Ethiopia

. Issue of human rights abuse in the Tigray region of Ethiopia to be discussed with Eritrean government, Ethiopian PM Abiy disclosed

. Pro-TPLF elements in civilians cloths attacking Ethiopian soldiers in towns and cities in Tigray region 

Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday explained the circumstances under which Eritrean troops entered the Tigray region of Ethiopia following counter-offensive by the Ethiopian Defense Force against Tigray People’s Liberation Front whose forces attacked the national army on the night of November 4, 2020, in unsuspecting circumstances. 

“The way the people and government of Eritrea treated,and supported members of Ethiopian Defense Force, who experienced a treasonous attack, who found themselves in Eritrea after the attack will make us indebted to Eritrea,” he said. 

He added, Ethiopian history will always remember how our soldiers were taken care of in Eritrea after the TPLF attack. 

His remark came in response to questions by parliamentarians in connection with the security situation in Tigray, northern part of Ethiopia, and allegations of human rights abuse and presence of Eritrean troops in the region. 

Moreover, PM Abiy Ahmed explained, in a way admitting the claim by pro-TPLF groups and media outlets, the circumstances under which Eritrean troops took control of the area in the northern part of Tigray that was under the Ethiopian Defense Force. 

He insinuated that his government has nodded to their presence. The Eritrean government, he said, had a national security concern to not control the border area with Ethiopia after the Ethiopian army abandoned the position following the attack on November 4. 

” The TPLF force, apart from what it had been doing for the past twenty years, fired a rocket against us even when it was at war. As you [Ethiopia] go after TPLF forces further south in counter-offensive, it could find a way to deploy its forces along the border area which is why we took control of the border area. If Ethiopian army is returning to the border position, we will withdraw the next day,” he said. 

Last month, Head of Indoctrination within the Ethiopian Defense Force, General Mohammed Tessema, said Eritrean Troops are not in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

The PM also addressed allegations of human rights violation by Eritrean troops in the Tigray region. Just like we do not accept violations by Ethiopian  troops, we do not accept any form of violations by Eritrean troops, he added. 

He said “The campaign is against a clearly defined enemy. It is not against our people.”

The Prime Minister revealed that his government had been consulting the Eritrean government about four or five times regarding the allegations of violations.  The Eritrean government , according to Abiy Ahmed, has condemned it and that it will take measures against soldiers engaged in such acts. 

The two governments are working on a joint-forum to discuss the allegations. However, the Prime Minister did not disclose the timeline. 

Ethiopia has been facing mounting pressure from human rights organizations and governments alike in the West.

However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government believes that much of the allegations is due to misunderstanding the operation to enforce the rule of law in Tigray region. 

His government also invited international human rights groups, including the UN Human Rights body, to take part in the investigation of human rights violations in Tigray.  The UNHRC has agreed to take part. 

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has also been investigating reports of human rights violation in the region, and is expected to release a report. 

Ethiopian soldiers had been killed in different parts of Tigray even after the completion of the major military operation. Pro-TPLF elements in civilian clothes ambush and kill Ethiopian Defense Force members in unsuspecting circumstances in cities and towns. The situation, according to Abiy, angered the Ethiopian Defense Force who responded to the killings. 

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